Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume5 Chapter7
Chapter 7 - The Real Battle Begins
The hall was filled with nervousness and excitement.
A large amount of spectators from every country in the continent had gathered in the hall.
Mixed in with the influential nobles and princess maidens from every country in the continent's training facilities, were girls wearing the Areishia Academy school uniform.
The Blade Dance competitors assembled above an altar in the center.
Because the audience was comprised of the nobility, there was no unsightly jeering.
It seemed like there were fans of the elementalists, so each appearance of the representing teams was followed by high-pitched cheering.
"Milady, please do you best~!"
"I will believe in and await milady's victory! Glory to the Laurenfrost!"
At the front of the spectators were Carol and Mireille waving a white banner.
"J-Jeez, those two......that's embarrassing!"
Rinslet blushed and hid behind Kamito.
"Kamito, stay vigilant. You are attracting a lot of attention."
"Yeah, got it."
At Ellis' words, Kamito surveyed the area and felt many gazes upon him.
Other than Leonora, it seemed that Muir whom they'd fought yesterday was also here.
(It doesn't appear that they know I've lost Est yet......)
If they did know of Kamito's situation, they wouldn't be looking at him vigilantly but instead with the look of a falcon eyeing its prey.
"Fufu, Kamito is popular."
Fianna said teasingly.
Besides Team Inferno, twenty-three teams had gathered.
Even within them, Dracunia's Knights of the Dragon Emperor had an overwhelming presence.
Around the leader, Leonora, elite elementalists assembled. The Knights of the Dragon Emperor were a military unit with rigid rules. All of the members stood straight up without moving.
Kamito's eyes met with Leonora's.
Those red eyes were incomparable to when they'd met at the library yesterday.
Chills ran down his spine for an instant.
It was like the feeling of being stared at by a giant predator.
"—Dracunia's Dragon Knights training is high quality. Even excluding Leonora, they seem to have no openings."
Ellis noted as she analyzed the enemy teams.
"Yes, if we leave aside Team Inferno, they are one of the favorites to win. There are also other teams to be wary of."
Claire said that in a whisper and Fianna and Rinslet also turned their heads in his direction.
"First, there are the two representatives from the same academy as us, Team Wyvern and Team Cernunnos. On top of that, the druid girl has an overwhelming advantage outdoors. There's a chance she'll incite all the magical beasts in the forest to attack us."
Moreover, they had already experienced a severe loss during practice against that druid girl. There were certainly opponents he didn't want to have to fight.
Then Claire turned her gaze upon the team that wore foreign outfits.
"They're Quina Empire's prided Four Gods. They're a team that specializes in battle tactics."
Quina Empire was a large country located on the eastern part of the continent. It had a completely different culture compared to the western countries like Ordesia.
"The white-haired one is their ace, Shao Fu. She uses the divine beast spirit White Tiger."
"Four Gods? Even though there are five people?"
"The fifth is probably the one that controls the Four Gods."
Answering Kamito, Claire moved her gaze to the group that was wearing white holy garments.
"Those are the Holy Kingdom of Lugia's Sacred Spirit Knights. The ace is the runner-up from last time, Luminaris the Paladin."
Kamito slipped out a surprised yelp at that name.
"Kamito-san, did something happen?"
"N-No, it's nothing......"
Kamito quickly shook his head at the puzzled Rinslet's question.
(I'm sure she was the holy spirit user. Because it was a bad match with Restia's darkness attribute, the fight was quite harsh.)
Holding the Blade Dance after only three years was extremely rare. It usually took decades and sometimes only happened once in a hundred years.
Because of the age restrictions on eligible princess maidens, crossing blades with the same opponent should never happen, but it seems this time was a case filled with special occurrences.
"She's nineteen so she's the oldest one at this Blade Dance. It seems that she swore to defeat Ren Ashbell to restore her honor."
"Kamito-kun, you're making quite a sour face."
Fianna teased the bitter-faced Kamito.
"Next is the Principality of Rossvale's Rupture Division. Their ace is Milla Bassett, the youngest this time at thirteen years old. Though they're an emerging nation that gained independence from the Holy Kingdom of Lugia only within the last few decades, their elementalists are said to be top-class."
Kamito looked towards the team that had been glaring in their direction since a while ago.
"The representatives from the Kingdom of Balstan. They're under the direct control of the royalty."
"Why are they glaring at us?"
"Umm......that's probably because of me."
Claire said so like it was hard for her.
"What do you mean?"
"Remember, it's because I slapped their prince yesterday—"
"......Ahh, I see."
Kamito finally remembered.
The crown prince of the Kingdom of Balstan. The prince that had acted out of interest and tried to kiss Claire.
"So it's because you embarrassed them."
"It's good enough if that crown prince understands with his body!"
For some reason, Rinslet was more angry than Claire.
"The Kingdom of Balstan's royalty may have ordered them to take revenge. Sorry, I carelessly created this mess."
"No, if Claire hadn't done anything back then, I would have."
"......Eh? Um, that means......"
As Claire's face went red.
A commotion started near the entrance of the great shrine.
"—So they've finally come."
The instant Ren Ashbell entered, the commotion died down.
She led four elementalists that were wearing hoods which extended to cover their entire body.
"So that's Team Inferno......"
Kamito stopped breathing and watched them.
He immediately discovered the small girl with ash grey hair.
The Instructional School's monster — militarized spirit user, Muir Alenstarl.
She quickly averted her eyes after meeting Kamito's.
Walking next to Muir was a tall girl with jade green hair. Her ears which were characteristic of the Elfim race were visible under the hood. Elfim specialized in covert operations within forests, so she might have been an intelligence-gathering elementalist.
Another was a girl with eye-popping blue hair. She was the only one who had luxurious gold and silver accessories lining her hood and she carried a folding fan with a gaudy design.
"The crest of the Alphas Theocracy royal family — don't tell me, Demon Caster Sjora Kahn!?"
"You know her?"
He asked and Claire nodded.
"She's the number one witch in their kingdom, the admired successor of the Dusk Witch."
"To think that other than Muir, such characters would be there......"
Kamito groaned while wiping the sweat from his brow.
But more oppressive than those three and drawing most of the spectators' gazes — the last person.
At the appearance of that person, the silence that had overtaken the hall was replaced once again with clamor.
"......Who is that, that person!?"
A black knight covered in jet black armor.
It wasn't just her appearance that was strange. Her entire body was covered in a mysterious aura.
An existence that was never meant to be here — for some reason, that was what he felt.
"What a repulsive divine power......"
Fianna, who was more receptive, said in a shaky voice.
Ren Ashbell noticed Kamito and walked straight over to him.
Silence fell and the ringing of iron shoes echoed.
Shielding the nervous young ladies behind him, Kamito took a step forward.
And stood off against the crimson-masked girl.
"To think there was someone who could break the Brand of Darkness."
"It's a pity. Things won't go how you want them to."
Kamito returned the gaze of the crimson pupils within the mask.
"That brand was only for the purpose of jump starting the awakening of the Demon King within you. Once the Gate has been opened, it can never return to how it was before."
"—What is this Demon King you speak of?"
Ren Ashbell smiled within her mask and whispered in a voice so others couldn't hear.
"If you want to know, ascend and face me — Ren Ashbell."
"Ren Ashbell, huh. Having you say that is the greatest irony."
Kamito clicked his tongue and groaned.
"But I'll clarify this. If I beat you, you'll tell me everything."
"What confidence for someone who's lost their contracted spirit."
"Est will definitely return. She is my best partner."
Ren Ashbell shrugged, turned on her heel and left without another word.
And thus the short exchange between the two Ren Ashbells ended.
Commotion returned to the great shrine hall again.
Above the bonfire burning at the altar, five Queens appeared.
Amongst them was Reicha Alminas.
When he had met her yesterday, she had been a normal docile girl, but wrapped in her ritual clothes and performing a ritual, she certainly had the presence of one the five highest princess maidens.
Eventually, the Tempest details appeared from the five Queens.
The introduction to the Blade Dance was held in the northern forest area of Ragna Ys.
The field was covered by a separating barrier cast by all the Divine Ritual Institute's princess maidens, so it was impossible to leave by normal means. Each country's representatives were transported with their respective teams to random locations and, over the course of seven days, would offer up their blade dances.
There was one rule — you could not kill an elementalist.
The Blade Dance was not a martial arts match, but a dance ritual.
There was no way it would be allowed to taint the ritual offered to the Elemental Lords with a death.
The competition was decided by gathering the special spirit stones distributed to the representatives — the magic stones.
If a competitor was separated from their magic stones for more than one minute, they would be forcefully teleported out.
Seven days from the opening of the battle. The four teams that had assembled the greatest amounts of magic stones would be brought before the Elemental Lords to offer the final blade dances. At this point, even if a member had been lost, all five members would continue into the finals.
"—Good fortune and divine blessings upon the blade dancing princess maidens!"
The five Queens reading the oracle from the Elemental Lords spoke this in tandem.
That signified the beginning of the battle.
Amidst the deafening cheers, the elementalists entered the transportation circle drawn above the altar.
Just before the transportation circle, Kamito turned to face the young ladies that were his comrades.
"Everyone, we will definitely win!"
"Yes♪" "Yeah!" "Of course!" "That, um, that was my line!"
Ordesia's former second princess, Fianna Ray Ordesia.
Captain of the Sylphid Knights, Ellis Fahrengart.
The eldest daughter of the house of Laurenfrost, Rinslet Laurenfrost.
The younger sister of the Calamity Queen, Claire Rouge of the house of Elstein.
And the winner of the last Blade Dance three years prior — Kazehaya Kamito.
The four girls and one boy, each with their own Wish, moved to challenge the Blade Dance.
After stepping into the transportation circle, a mysterious forest opened up in front of him.
Slight fog obscured his vision. Cries of birds and beasts could be heard from afar.
"Inside a forest, huh......there are countless places enemies could conceal themselves......"
Claire, who transported in directly after him, gave a cursory look at the surroundings.
"Should I have my wind familiar search the immediate area?"
"That's right......no, it may be better not to. It's not that I don't trust your abilities, Ellis, but spirit magic users will instantly discover us."
Ellis nodded at Claire's deduction.
"My Fenrir will carry everybody's belongings."
Rinslet summoned the demon ice spirit with her finger.
The blizzard-clad Fenrir raised a war cry.
In an instant, five peoples' worth of luggage was sucked into its opened mouth and disappeared.
"The Laurenfrost territory's population is isolated, so having Fenrir carry goods is a life saver."
Rinslet petted Fenrir's head and it gave out a sweet whine.
"Mu, Scarlet is cute but Fenrir is also cute......"
Ellis gazed at Fenrir with an expression like her heart was stolen.
"The freezing coldness at the Laurenfrost's is enough to kill. Or rather, I was stranded in the garden that time I came to the main house to play when we were kids."
"When I found you, you hugged onto me and sobbed......sigh, where did the cute Claire from back then go, I wonder?"
Rinslet sighed with a faraway look.
"Y-You......if you say anymore, I'll turn you into cinders!"
"How wide was the garden if you managed to get stranded......"
To the side of the two was a dumbstruck Kamito.
"We should also find a camp site or we'll freeze to death."
"Yeah, that's right."
Even though this was within Ragna Ys, whether it was because the Wind Elemental Lord's divine protection was weak or something, it was definitely cold. The academy's school uniform also had built-in cold protection, but it didn't seem like it would be effective against the night's cold.
"It's also important to secure a water supply. It would be good if there was a river or lake nearby."
Claire's suggestion wasn't just for drinking water, it was also for the required purifications an elementalist needed to undertake to remove any taint.
"At any rate, that means the first thing is to search the surrounding area. Our formation will consist of me as vanguard, Rinslet and Fianna in the center, and Ellis and Kamito in the rearguard.
Claire proposed a logical formation.
Fianna who was weak at battle was in position to be protected by everyone, and Rinslet was able to see in every direction. Kamito who possessed great power was positioned to monitor the surroundings and the two who possessed great one-on-one strength, Claire and Ellis, were stationed at each end.
Kamito and company got into formation and began to advance through the forest.
They had walked in the forest for roughly half an hour.
From a while ago, ball-like light spirits had frequently flitted around overhead.
They were the spirits for the purpose of relaying the Blade Dance from the field back to the great shrine.
It seemed they were trained not to intrude on their privacy, but there was no doubt that Kamito and the others were currently being displayed on-screen.
"We haven't found any signs of water. Just how large is this place?"
"It should be considerably large. Ragna Ys's size is comparable to a small country."
Claire, who was walking in front, answered Kamito's question.
"It looks like we'll need to create a map soon."
Rinslet said as she removed a branch from her hair.
"......My feet have started to hurt a little."
Fianna, who wasn't used to hiking, said with a grimace.
Unlike Claire and the others, she had transferred in and hadn't undergone the same open field training.
"Shall I carry you?"
"Eh? N-No, it's fine......"
At Kamito's words, Fianna's face reddened and she shook her head.
"Don't push yourself. It's too late if you become unable to walk."
"B-But, I......that is, I'm wearing this short skirt......"
......As expected, even the queen that always teased Kamito would be embarrassed by that.
"Kamito, you're thinking about such indecent things again!"
Ellis drew her sword.
"I-I'm not thinking them! Or rather, what's this again about!"
"Hmph, m-my foot hurts......maybe."
Ellis chewed her lip like she was pouting.
Looking at her condition from before, that didn't seem to be the case but,
"I-Is that so?......but, as expected, carrying two people is a little harsh."
"M-My foot also started to hurt suddenly!"
"Yes, lending me just your sh-shoulder would help greatly!"
"Yeah, I can do that much."
"I-Is that so? T-Then, I shall take you up on that."
Rinslet smiled and moved over to his shoulder.
Her uniform that lightly smelled of sweat.
His heart throbbed at the soft sensation touching his arm.
"......Th-That's unfair, Rinslet! Kamito, please lend me your shoulder as well!"
For some reason unbeknownst to him, Ellis also latched onto his shoulder.
"Th-Then......me as well♪"
Fianna also rested her head on his shoulder from behind.
"Th-This is difficult......"
Being hugged by three girls, he let out an anguished voice.
"Hey, you three! The formation is falling apart!"
"Fufu, you're not honest. Even though it'd be fine for Claire to say her feet hurt as well."
"Wha......a-aren't you being stupid!? I'm fine, I can walk on my own!"
Claire cried out angrily with a red face at the teasing Fianna.
And Kamito stopped walking.
"Kamito-san, what's wrong?"
"Be quiet. We're being ambushed."
The three separated from Kamito and summoned their respective contracted spirits.
A silence like the drawn bowstring of a bow.
(No, this isn't silence — it's inaction.)
Kamito sharpened his senses and searched for presences.
(Two people. They're scouts or there are others with them.)
"It's unexpected. That we would find a trap this early."
"Yeah, even though it shouldn't be a good plan to act this quickly—"
Right after Kamito nodded.
A flash of light exploded.
(......A distraction, huh!)
What had exploded was a depth charge spirit stone embedded in the ground that was prepared beforehand.
It was a substitute that looked flashy but had no power.
But it had made an opening for an instant.
In tandem with it, Kamito felt determined presences moving in.
He felt the flash was to disrupt him. Kamito trusted his instinct and jumped.
Right after. The place Kamito had been at just before was replaced with a giant arm of sand.
As he thought, there were others as well.
The sand mass wriggled and stretch towards his arm—
"I won't allow that, freezing fangs, pierce — Freezing Arrow!"
Rinslet's ice arrow pierced the sand arm.
Claire warned him.
Kamito kicked the ground and jumped-—
"—Crush them to death, stone beast spirit Gargoyle!"
The shadow that instantly fell to the ground. The gigantic mass that fell from above.
Earth and sand danced in the air as the ground tremored.
The spirit that had taken the form of a stone goblin. The elementalist girl rode on its back.
The beautiful pure white uniform.
"If I recall, that's the Kingdom of Balstan's......
"—O master swordsman, become my shield!"
From further up the path appeared Fianna's knight spirit.
The knight's sword drew a shining arc. The sound of stone being crushed rang out as the stone beast's arm was destroyed.
Two seconds after the flash, his eyes had finally recovered.
The young ladies got into formation around Claire.
(I can't really blade dance without Est, but—)
He created a short sword using his basic spirit magic.
He attempted to circle around in the disturbance — just then.
Sending earth and sand flying, a sand giant appeared before him.
Kamito widened the gap while clicking his tongue.
(The sand spirit user — just where are they?)
Kamito quickly ran his eyes over the surrounding area.
The first theory was that the elementalist had used their spirit's earth attribute to hide underground with spirit magic. But there were no traces of such.
A second presence appeared behind him—
(The second one......!)
From the shadow of the trees appeared a girl wielding a saber.
An invisible flash split the tree behind Kamito.
Kamito covered himself and dodged.
"To dodge my blades of wind, as expected of the male elementalist."
The girl shouted that as she turned to face him.
"For the act of embarrassing my master — sorry, but I'll have you disappear here!"
"So it's really revenge for that idiotic prince, huh......"
Kamito sighed, astonished.
There were those who foolishly dragged their trivial personal grudges into the Blade Dance.
"......I sympathize with you. Elementalist of Balstan."
"I won't allow ridiculing my master!"
The wind elementalist girl swung the saber.
Kamito dodged to the side by jumping. The blades of wind lightly grazed his neck.
(......Although if I had Est, that kind of attack would be nothing.)
The storm of wind blades that flew in every direction prevented Kamito from closing in.
"Hah, it seems you really can't fight without a contracted spirit!"
(......Why does she know I lost Est?)
As he raised suspicions, at that moment — bluish-white lightning came from behind him.
He instantly turned his body and repelled it with his spirit magic sword.
The sword burst into grains.
Facing to the direction it came from, a girl stood there with an elemental waffe bow.
"No way, he reacted to that surprise attack just now!?"
The wind elementalist widened her eyes in shock.
"It's because I knew another person would be hiding."
"As I thought, you're dangerous. We have to crush you while you can't use your contracted spirit."
"You're overestimating me quite a bit."
He observed the surroundings without letting down his guard as he jested.
Behind was the saber-wielding wind elementalist. In front was the bow-wielding lightning elementalist.
And the sand giant also appeared behind him.
(......Three skilled elementalists. As expected, it's tough.)
Cold sweat gathered on his temple.
From some point in time, a thick fog had coated the forest.
It wasn't natural fog. It was obviously created with spirit magic.
Claire and others should be fighting against that stone beast spirit from before not too far away, but because of the fog, he couldn't hear sounds of the battle or their voices at all.
(From the start, this plan was for taking me down, huh—)
This time's Blade Dance was a battle of attrition.
There was no need to defeat all of the enemy team at once.
He didn't know where they'd received information about his losing Est, but they had aimed for Team Scarlet who had lost their strongest force.
The two elementalists battling Claire and the others were likely just buying time.
(Then I'll also buy time. Just hold on until Claire and the others come—)
Kamito gripped his hands and took half a step.
The wind elementalist waved her saber and created blades of wind.
But Kamito didn't stop. Slightly shifting his center of gravity, he dodged by a hair's breadth.
"He can see my wind blades!?"
"—It's a pity but their paths are easy to read in a forest!"
The blades themselves were invisible, but he could see the leaves and branches they cut. After being shown the attack so many times, Kamito had discerned their speed and width.
Of course, to actually carry it out required extraordinary senses and courage.
Messing up just a tiny bit would mean the end. Due to the rules, his head wouldn't fly but his consciousness would.
Accelerating, he closed in on the wind elementalist.
"You, I won't let you!"
Immediately, an arrow of lightning came towards him — however,
That instant, Kamito disappeared.
Kamito had kicked the ground and flew straight up.
The battle techniques that had been hammered into him at the Instructional School — Meta three-dimensional movement.
The other orphan from the Instructional School, Jio Inzagi, had also used this move, but his speed did not match the overwhelming version of Kamito's Shadow Weaving.
Weaving between the branches of the trees, it was a technique of moving at top speed in all directions to toy with the opponent. Amongst the elementalists that had received ordinary battle training, there were none that could do this.
Kicking the trunk of a tree, Kamito accelerated. The wind elementalist and lightning elementalist fired at the afterimages he left behind and hit nothing.
"—Sandman, topple the trees around you!"
The wind elementalist shouted sharply.
The sand spirit roared and knocked down the surrounding trees.
Despite its dull-looking body, it was unexpectedly fast. He had fought with members of the earth attribute — such as rock, but this was the first type that had such mobility.
Losing his footholds, Kamito had no other choice but to land.
"—O wind, blow wildly!"
The blades of wind from the side severed the sand giant's arm.
The blue ponytail waving in the wind.
Ellis who had her elemental waffe Ray Hawk in hand.
"—Ellis, that's a great help."
"Sorry for being late. The mist spirit caused me trouble."
Ellis landed lightly and readied her spear with magnificent movements.
"Kuu, the plan is a failure, huh......retreat!"
The enemy wind elementalist's judgment was quick.
The plan to take Kamito out with a swift attack coupled with a surprise attack had failed. There was no point in fighting any further.
"—Like I'll let you run!"
Ellis waved Ray Hawk.
Ellis' demon wind spirit was several tiers above the opponent's wind spirit. While cutting down the trees in its path, the wind blades attacked the retreating elementalist.
In its path — the sand giant stood up.
The blades of wind landed a direct hit. The wind elementalist and lightning elementalist had disappeared into the forest.
Ellis bit her lip in frustration. The sand spirit immediately began to rebuild.
However, at the moment the front had been blown open, Kamito realized.
(I thought its movements were too good......so you hid there.)
The sand gathered again and completely resealed its wound --- just before that.
Kamito instantly jumped into the sand's opening --- he punched through the giant's solar plexus.
It was the feeling of sand that greeted his fist.
The rebuilding sand giant crumbled in moments.
The one that appeared from within was a girl who had fainted.
"What does this mean?"
"That sand giant was her elemental waffe."
Kamito shrugged and answered Ellis' question.
"......Sorry. I'll be taking this."
Kamito leaned down and took the magic stone from around the girl's neck.
If they waited one minute, this girl would be transported back to the grand shrine.
"Kamito!" "Kamito-kun!" "Were you okay?"
Claire and the others came running from the other side of the forest.
It seems the other fight had also reached a conclusion.
"Are you guys also unhurt?"
"Yeah......rather, don't tell me you defeated them without a contracted spirit?"
Claire widened her ruby eyes.
"No, it would have been dangerous if Ellis hadn't come. They ran away in the end."
"Here," he said as he tossed the magic stone to Claire.
At that time, the fainted sand elementalist was enveloped by a transportation circle and disappeared as shards of light.
"We defeated the stone beast elementalist. The mist elementalist got away."
Claire gripped the two magic stones in her hand.
"It's dangerous to chase them too far. They seem like a meticulous team."
"At any rate, I never thought we would be attacked this quickly."
"Yes, it seems like it would be a good idea to find a camp site quickly."
Claire nodded at Ellis' words.
As expected, they weren't going to be elated at their first victory.
Kamito turned to the path forward that was covered in the remnants of the depth charge spirit stone.
(The mysterious thing is how they managed to ambush us.)
Even though it hadn't been even an hour since the start, they had moved like they knew Kamito and the others' location.
(Also, they knew that I've lost Est.)
Just who was leaking information, he wondered.
Kamito dropped his eyes to the spirit seal on his right hand.
In the end, even when Kamito's body clearly felt danger, the Gate had shown no signs of opening.
"As expected, Kazehaya Kamito—"
The ones watching the first day of the Blade Dance from afar.
Seated on a slightly elevated hill were five girls in military uniforms.
One of those favored to win this time's competition, The Principality of Dracunia's representatives, Knights of the Dragon Emperor.
They were using the dragon attribute spirit magic "Dragon Eye" to observe far away.
"That is why he is suitable to be sacrificed to the dragon sleeping within me."
The girl standing at the cliff edge — Leonora Lancaster licked her lips.
With ferocity emanating from her entire body, her eyes gleamed like blood.
(Leonora-sama's Dragon Blood is awakening......)
Apparent fear painted vice-captain Yuri El Cid's face.
Shivers ran down her spine.
The strange power inherited by those who served dragons — Dragon Blood.
This was Yuri's fourth time seeing Leonora with red eyes.
The first time she had witnessed it was two years ago at the entrance examination for the Knights of the Dragon Emperor. Leonora had obliterated all other contestants within minutes.
It was a mad dance that had felt like it would cause casualties.
If the dragon within her woke up, not even her subordinates could stop her.
(But this time seems a little different from usual......)
Yuri looked upon Leonora's side profile.
Looking at her appearance, she seemed calm.
For some reason, her interest was only directed at one person and she wanted to slaughter only that male elementalist.
Leonora stood there looking upon the landscape in silence.
"—Tonight, we hunt a pack of lions."
Yuri and the others nodded wordlessly.
That was the signal of an attack for the Knights of the Dragon Emperor.